Eight games played, eight games won for Liverpool. Not all have been won comfortably but winning is ultimately all that matters.
Liverpool’s continued love of winning has seen them open up an eight-point gap already on two time defending champions Manchester City, following the latter’s 2-0 defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pep Guardiola’s side are suffering key injuries, with players such as Aymeric Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne absent, but the Reds have already put the pressure on early into the season after running City so close in the previous campaign.
So close yet so far for Leicester at Anfield
Leicester City will consider themselves unfortunate to have left Anfield with nothing on Saturday after a last-minute 2-1 defeat thanks to a debatable penalty won by Sadio Mané and converted coolly by James Milner.
Leicester had managed to find an equaliser through James Maddison with around ten minutes to go and Brendan Rodgers looked to have marked his return to Anfield with a point. Yet Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool never know when the game is over, even if they are not at their fluent best.
Their stubborn mentality and continued pressure eventually led to a breakthrough right at the death as Leicester cracked through Marc Albrighton four minutes into injury time.
Even if Mané did make the most of Albrighton’s challenge in the penalty area, Albrighton should not have even given the referee a decision to make – kick the ball out and win a point for your team at Anfield.
In the end, Liverpool had the right man for the job from the spot, and Milner’s penalty ensured the Reds picked up their seventeenth successive league win.
Records both broken and to break for the Reds
Nine wins on the bounce was not enough to stop Manchester City winning the title at the end of last season, as the blue half of Manchester won their final fourteen league matches to defend their crown.
However, buoyed by their remarkable success in the Champions League, Liverpool have picked up from where they left off last season with a perfect eight wins from eight matches in the Premier League. Their eight-point lead over City is the biggest ever gap at the top of the table at this stage of a Premier League campaign.
Once domestic football resumes following the latest international break, Liverpool will have the chance to match the all-time Premier League record for consecutive wins, set at eighteen by Guardiola’s City team of two years ago.
However, poignantly, Liverpool’s next fixture is against their biggest rivals, Manchester United, at Old Trafford, with Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield to follow to break City’s record. Yet is it the perfect time for Liverpool to play United and Spurs?
Tottenham tumbling but have time to recover for Anfield
Following their defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League final, Tottenham have nosedived under Mauricio Pochettino.
Uncertainty clouded Spurs all summer, and their season so far has been marked by poor form on the pitch and an unsettled squad and manager off the pitch.
Star players with only a year left on their contracts, allied to the lack of signings in previous years and a failure to regenerate the squad this summer to the extent desired by Pochettino have combined to create a bleak outlook for Spurs at present.
No Premier League team has suffered more defeats in all competitions in 2019 than Tottenham. Their run to the Champions League final may have papered over the cracks last season, but matters have not improved this season – they have only worsened.
The last fortnight has been particularly painful for Tottenham fans. Spurs lost on penalties in the Carabao Cup to League Two side Colchester United, were thrashed 7-2 at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and then swept aside by lowly Brighton in the Premier League, producing a worrying abject performance.
Tottenham’s squad remains full of quality and they can turn their situation around, at least in the short-term, but the long-term futures for the likes of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Pochettino himself at Spurs appear doubtful at best.
Yet Liverpool will only recognise the short-term threat that Spurs could present - they are a member of the so-called 'Big Six' after all - having played them in the Champions League final just four months ago.
Old Trafford a tough task regardless of United’s poor predicament
Manchester United are also a Big Six side by name and status, but certainly not by form.
The once-dominant superpower of English football has continued its decline since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the latest United manager in the hot seat and unable to prevent the continued slide at Old Trafford.
Sitting outside the top ten in the league and only two points above the relegation zone with nine points, United have made their worst start to a league campaign for thirty years – when Liverpool last won the league title. For the moment at least, football appears to have travelled back to the 1980s for these two great clubs in England’s north-west.
Sacking Solskjaer for a genuine world-class manager may improve United and their prospects, but ultimately they must revamp their structure at the top to reflect the changes in the modern game.
The addition of a genuine technical or sporting director is vital, alongside figures who have the qualifications to make football decisions for a global football club, rather than those who dictate from a purely business perspective.
Again though, as with Spurs, Liverpool will be acutely aware of United’s threat when they travel to Old Trafford. United are at their best when on the counter-attack – a tactic Solskjaer will be able to employ against Liverpool.
Moreover, both sides are always up for this massive encounter when form and gaps in quality often go out the window. Relatively poor Liverpool teams frequently took points off Ferguson’s United sides, so there is no reason United cannot do the same and prevent Liverpool from matching City’s record. After all, anyone can beat anyone in the Premier League, as Norwich City proved a few weeks ago.
Liverpool may have forgotten how not to win in the league, but any complacency will ensure the memories come flooding back and provide City with encouragement in the title race.
Breaking the record for league wins would be fantastic for Liverpool and an acknowledgement and appreciation of the true quality of Klopp’s team. Ultimately, however, Liverpool need to beat United and Spurs not for the record, but to simply keep the City juggernaut in the rear-view mirror ahead of their crunch title clash in November.
The title race is not over – it has barely even started, but Liverpool are indeed off to a good start.